All students in Weinberg College are required to demonstrate writing proficiency before graduation. To demonstrate your proficiency, you must write satisfactorily in two courses at Northwestern.
Typically, these courses are first-year seminars. Students who do not complete the writing proficiency requirement through first-year seminars take other courses (listed below), or they sometimes choose to submit a writing portfolio instead.
Click on a link below to jump to details about the type of coursework you might complete to fulfill this requirement:
- Entering students
- Interschool transfer students
- Students transferring from another college or university
Most students complete the writing proficiency requirement through their first-year seminars. (HPME and MMSS students are required to take only one first-year seminar, and they have only a one-course writing requirement.) Students who do not complete both required seminars in the first year should discuss the situation with their adviser as soon as possible.
As part of their teaching responsibilities, first-year seminar instructors evaluate the writing of their students. These evaluations reflect the instructors' assessments of students' writing skills only and do not necessarily correspond to the grades students earn in the seminar courses. Evaluations are forwarded to the Writing Program. If you receive unsatisfactory evaluations in one or both courses, you will be contacted by the Writing Program, and you will meet with a Writing Program adviser to map out a plan for achieving and demonstrating writing proficiency. This plan may include taking an expository writing course (English 105, 205, or 305) or preparing a portfolio of writing produced in courses beyond the first-year seminars (see the section below on portfolios).
At the beginning of your sophomore year, if you are unsure about whether you have completed the writing requirement, you can check your electronic degree audit information on the Registrar's Office website. If you have any questions about the writing requirement you can contact the Writing Program, Crowe Hall 2-184, phone 847-491-7414 or check with a Weinberg College Adviser.
If you transfer into Weinberg College as a first-year student, you are expected to take one or two seminars, depending on your date of transfer. ISTs who write successfully in two seminars will complete the writing requirement.
If you transfer into the College late in the first year and only take one seminar, or if you transfer in after the first year, you may fulfill the writing requirement in one of the following ways:
- Completing an equivalent writing proficiency requirement in another division of Northwestern (or in unusual cases at another college or university). Students transferring from MEAS who have completed two quarters of English 106-1,2—Writing in Special Contexts have automatically fulfilled the requirement; all other students will be referred to the director of the Writing Program.
- Successfully completing English 105, 205, or 305.
- Demonstrating an ability to write satisfactorily in courses taken at Northwestern by submitting a portfolio of written work for review.
All interschool transfer students should plan to meet with their Weinberg College Adviser in their first quarter in Weinberg to develop a plan for meeting the requirement.
If you have transferred into Northwestern from another college or university, you have fulfilled the Weinberg writing proficiency requirement. If you have questions about how to improve your writing, you can contact an adviser in the Writing Program to talk about writing courses and writing resources available to you.
Students who do not complete the writing proficiency requirement through first-year seminars sometimes choose to submit a writing portfolio instead.
- The portfolio should include three writing samples from at least two different classes (all three must be from courses taken at Northwestern). At least two samples should be analytic writing.
- You should bring print copies of your samples, along with a brief cover letter that describes your writing background in college and identifies the courses for which you originally wrote the papers, to your Weinberg College Adviser.
- These will be forwarded to a committee in the Writing Program, and you will be contacted after your writing portfolio has been reviewed. The committee meets several times each quarter.